For those thinking about cashing in on the latest hard fork of Litecoin, be sure to use safe crypto best practices. I approach a fork with extreme caution; in fact I assume that the purpose of the fork is to steal the contents of my wallet they are forking.
What The Fork?
Above the surface, a soft fork generally is a means to upgrade the coin’s platform and a hard fork will generally clone a coin and then diverge from it at some magical location on the blockchain; bringing a new coin into existence. Hard forks can be welcomed or not. This latest Litecoin fork is unwelcomed by the Litecoin organization.
Under the surface, a fork is yet another way evil doers can steal your private key. For instance, a forked online wallet provider website or “core” or “full node” local client is a means for you to input your wallet address and private key so you can access your forked coins. In the process of claiming your “free” coins, you have now given up the keys to the real item of value, your Bitcoin or Litecoin. I’m not saying that the upcoming Litecoin fork is nefarious, I am saying that safe crypto is to assume that it is and avoid being “forked”.
Hard Wallets – Safe(r) Crypto
This is another example of how a hard wallet such as Ledger and Trezor can protect you from yourself. For instance, there is no private key to input when using a hard wallet. For more info on hard wallet protection refer to my earlier article Managing a Crypto Portfolio.
Hard wallet makers will usually examine each fork to determine whether or not to implement support for it. Both Ledger and Trezor did not implement support for the Bitcoin Diamond hard fork (late 2017), but did eventually provide support for Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold forks.
FWIW, I generally can care less about hard forks, and assume it is a way to steal my coins. If the forked coin carries value or has significant interest, it is likely that the wallet makers will provide support for it; so I just wait until that day comes (or doesn’t).
Abstinence vs. Safe Forking (If You Must)
If you are going to take advantage of the fork and do not wish to wait for support by the wallet makers, you will need to transfer your coins to a fresh wallet. To do that safely you should first download the source code to a wallet generator such as liteaddress.org. This is important because you will want to run the website code locally while you are disconnected from the network. If running from local source code of liteaddress.org, simply load the index.html page in your browser. Whether printing a paper wallet or storing your address and private key, follow the safe(r) principles in my earlier article Managing a Crypto Portfolio.
Transfer your Litecoin to this newly created wallet address. WAIT until the hard fork completes. Once complete, and before accessing your new coins, safely transfer your coins back to your hard wallet or other safe storage location. Only after this transfer is it safe to access your new “free” forked coins using their site’s preferred wallet. Do not ever use this wallet again to store Litecoin, toss the wallet address into the bitbucket and assume it to be compromised.
Be safe, practice safe crypto.